Thursday, April 19, 2007

The new Whole Foods Cheese Department

Whole Foods, that juggernaut of upscale shopping has opened a new store on Houston Street and in stark contrast to their other New York City outlets, this store is serious about cheese.
It's a persistent mystery to me that WF rather ignores cheese in New York City. Until now, there stores had the same Citerella caliber selection of middlebrow cheeses. For a store that labors so mightily to tell you how much they value locally grown produce and small producer goods, it always felt like something of a contradiction that when it comes to cheese that they would buy so many factory made products and sell them in precut, cellophane suffocated pieces.
I rather suspect that that was the plan for Houston Street and that what is now the cheese cave was going to be a wine shop. However, in one of NYC's most unfortunately quaint laws, you can't sell wine and food under the same roof. Since WF makes a lot of money selling food, the wine had to go. Enter cheese.
Great cheese is sold in NYC but it's typically done at the boutique level (my weekend employer, The Bedford Cheese Shop is one such boutique), so I'd often wonder what it would look like if a big store sold great cheese.
Now I know.
And it is pretty but I doubt it'll last. WF hired away a buyer from Artisanal, brought in big name consultants, and hung pictures from Neal's Yard. They have cheeses from Rolf Beeler, Herve Mons, Luiggi Guffanti and several other key figures that cheese lovers revere. So far so good. The one thing they didn't do was train the staff.
Hell of an oversight. If you can't present great cheese well, then the public that doesn't know the diference will stick to the middlebrow cheeses since they cost about half as much.
I've been three times and each visit I keep wondering what they'll put there next.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

More All About Chevre Tastings

In addition to April 17, 24, and 26 we're also on for May 1.
Official word below.

The Joy of Cheese Presents All About Chevre

No, it’s not just “goat cheese.” Not anymore. Cheeses made from goat’s milk are essential offerings of every great cheesemaking nation and we’re going to try something from everyone. Leaf wrapped soft cheeses from Tuscany, firm chevres from the Pyrenees, old favorites from Switzerland and Italy, Goat goudas from Holland and California, hopefully even a great British goat or two, and of course several from other parts of America. In addition we’ll be doing a few comparisons of the industry standard then and now.

This should be a lot of fun. These are cheeses that should pair well with almost every white wine on the menu and several of the fruitier reds.

The tastings are scheduled for April 17th, 24th, 26th, and May 1st. .

As always the tastings run from just after 7 until around 8:30 at 10 Degrees, the wonderful wine and high end spirits bar at 121 St. Marks’ Place in the East Village. Admission to the tasting is $30 and you pay for your drinks as you go.

Reservations are a must. Contact me at